Trade Schools in Wisconsin

Written ByRWM Editors
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Wisconsin CTE programs could be your ticket to a stable career offering a good income. CTE stands for career-technical education, and you can find these programs at both the high school and college level.

Overall, 97 percent of state high school students following a CTE curriculum will earn their degree. What's more, 92% of graduates from technical schools in Wisconsin will be employed or enrolled in the military or an apprenticeship within six months of finishing their program. Those numbers come from Advance CTE, an association of career-technical education directors.

Many of the fastest growing jobs in Wisconsin require vocational training. For instance, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers as well as registered nurses have some of the hottest jobs statewide, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. In Milwaukee, maintenance and repair workers are in demand. Meanwhile, medical assistants should have good job prospects in the north central section of the state, and welders are needed in western Wisconsin.

Why is Wisconsin Good For Vocational Schools?

Vocational schools in Wisconsin give workers what are known as middle skills. These are skills that require training past high school but not a four-year degree. According to the National Skills Coalition, 55 percent of Wisconsin jobs required middle skills in 2015. However, only 48 percent of workers had that level of training. That means there may be good employment opportunities in the state for those who earn a certificate, diploma or associate degree.

Online trade schools in Wisconsin can make it convenient to pursue these jobs. Depending on the program, you may be able to earn your degree from home without ever setting foot on campus. In addition to letting you study around your current work schedule, that could eliminate commuting and childcare costs. Even if your program must be completed in person, career schools in Wisconsin can generally have you ready for a job in one to two years so you can quickly get the skills you need and move on to the workforce.

Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Wisconsin

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Financial Aid for Vocational Students in Wisconsin

There are two main reasons students can save money by enrolling in technical schools in Wisconsin. The first is most vocational programs can be completed in two years or less, meaning students get out of school in half the time it takes to graduate from four-year colleges and universities.

The second reason is that tuition rates are typically lower at two-year schools. Consider these average tuition rates based on 2018 data from The College Board:

  • Wisconsin Technical College System schools — $4,095
  • Two-year institutions within the University of Wisconsin — $5,186
  • Four-year institutions within the University of Wisconsin — $7,389 to $10,534
  • Public out-of-state and private non-profit four-year institutions — $30,180

Not only are two-year schools considerably cheaper, but Wisconsin scholarships and grants are available to students who enroll. To receive financial aid in Wisconsin, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the form used by the government and schools to determine eligibility for assistance programs like those listed below. View our financial aid guide for more about the FAFSA and how to apply for financial aid in Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Grant: This grant provides $250 to $3,150 per year for financially eligible students who are enrolled at least half-time at the University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Technical Colleges or tribal institutions.
  • Talent Incentive Program Grant: Initial grants from this program may range from $600 to $1,800 annually, and this aid is intended for the most financially needy and educationally disadvantaged Wisconsin residents.
  • Technical Excellence Scholarship: These scholarships award $2,500 per year to high-achieving high school students who go on to attend Wisconsin Technical Colleges.

Initiatives for Vocational Students in Wisconsin

Here are a few of the ways Wisconsin is supporting career schools in the state:

Funding for vocational students in Wisconsin

In Fiscal Year 2018, Wisconsin higher education funding equaled $6,435 per student based on full-time equivalent enrollment, according to a report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor awarded a $5 million grant to the Department of Workforce Development to help fund 1,000 new apprenticeships in the state.

Wisconsin policies that benefit vocational students

Wisconsin Technical Colleges have tuition reciprocity agreements with six schools in Michigan, Illinois and Iowa which allow out-of-state students to pay in-district tuition rates when enrolling at participating technical schools in Wisconsin.

  • Apprentice Wisconsin is an initiative of the Department of Workforce Development that helps connect potential apprentices to sponsors.

School-specific program initiatives in Wisconsin

Some Wisconsin high schools have partnered up with Wisconsin Technical Colleges to offer early college credit through the Start College Now program.

  • Other schools have specific vocational programs for high school students who want a head-start on learning practical job skills. For instance, the award-winning Kaukauna High School manufacturing program provides hands-on experience with computer-aided design software. Participating students also earn college credit from Fox Valley Technical College or the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers

For information on school accreditation, visit the Higher Learning Commission website.

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